Just like the popular Disney movies it's based on, High School Musical: The Musical: The Series follows the lives of a group of students who study and participate in theatrical productions at fictional East High School.
In the second season of the series, now streaming on Disney+, the East High Wildcats are preparing to perform Beauty and the Beast as their spring musical -and Frankie Rodríguez's character, Carlos, gets the star treatment from friends who throw him a dance-filled Quinceañero he never had for his 16th birthday, a party to celebrate his transition into adulthood.
"It's really not all about Carlos; a lot of the other cast members really get to shine in that episode," he tells People CHICA about his character, a member of the LGBTQIA+ community at the school who is dating Seb, played by Joe Serafini. "I think everyone is going to really love it. It feels like a party and it felt like a party when we were filming it."
His character's party is a dream come true for the Mexican American actor who wanted one for himself, he says. Traditionally, a Quinceañera party for girls -or a Quinceañero party for boys- celebrates a Latin teenager's 15th birthday, and is considered a coming of age event in their lives, very much like a Sweet 16 party.
Rodríguez applauds this story line and the series' inclusion and embrace of the LGBTQIA+ community, which is something he says he didn't see growing up watching television.
"I like the track that we're on right now of love and acceptance and just being comfortable with who you are," he shares. "It's just something I never saw on a children's program. We're able to allow these characters to be their authentic selves, [give] room for them to grow and figure out who they are, not putting so much pressure saying: 'You have to know who you are by sixteen.' That's so unrealistic. I love the fact that our show does play to real life and we are all teenagers trying to figure out who we are and how to love ourselves."
Rodríguez, who has appeared in several television shows, films and commercials, loves what he's doing in the series -and has a bucket list that includes performing on Broadway. "I have so much [going on] right now and I'm enjoying the time I have on the show," he expresses. "My original plan for my acting career was to do Broadway, that's definitely something that I aspire to do, but the fact that I get to do some sort of musical performance on Disney+ is the best of both worlds."
The actor's Quinceañero episode debuts today.